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Aims & Objectives National Centre for Theoretical and Applied Economic Research
  Seminar Proceedings

    • Interactive Session on Status of Poverty level among Scheduled Castes occupational groups, 21st May, 2007.

Title -
Socio-Economic Survey of Poverty Status and Levels of SCs in various Occupational Groups



Sri. M. Jagadeeshwar, Managing Director, APSCCFC, welcomed participants of the Interactive Session, and indicated that the objectives of the Session  is to gather suggestions on measures, for effective implementation of SC welfare programmes, on  the scope for enhancing the flow of benefits to the community and various methodologies adopted for identification of beneficiaries. 

Sri. A.P.V.N.Sarma, Special Chief Secretary, Social Welfare Department suggested that that schemes could be so designed that the benefits go first to the most vulnerable sections of the society and the Department would welcome suggestions for improvement of scheme design and implementation process.

Sri. S.R.Sankaran, Chairman, observed that Government of India/ adopted various methodologies in constructing estimates of poverty ratios, and population below poverty line. The results are only global, broad based estimates and they have   very little relevance at the micro level. For instance the Nutritional anchor that converts into money value cutting across the expenditure class is a rough measure of poverty. In order to identify the real poor households, Ministry of Rural Development initiated surveys in 1992 and conducted BPL Census in 1992 & 1997which adopted innumerable number of indicators for identification of beneficiaries. But operationally we are interested in identification of the poorest from below. The assumption of cut off level for 2002 census adopting an arbitrary method has been challenged and may not be the best approach. While income levels of poor are difficult to measure correctly and decide eligibility, the location of the poor in a village is easier.  By and large the SCs in village hamlets are the poorest, an easily identifiable group. There must be clarity about the objective and methodologies of the study.  

Sri. V.K.Srinivasan, Vice Chairman, Indian Institute of Economics, highlighted the differences between the methodology of Planning Commission for estimating poverty line and population below poverty line since 1973-74 and the methodologies of survey and census adopted by Ministry of Rural Development since 1992 for identification of persons below poverty line in 1992, 1997 and 2002 as potential beneficiaries of Rural Development Schemes.. The methodologies for BPL Survey/ Census for eighth, ninth and tenth five years plans differed from each other. In 2002 Census, attempts were made to link the results of BPL census conducted by State Governments in the field to the estimates of population below poverty line made by Planning Commission.  This led to litigations and affected implementation of schemes.  Stating that the evaluation of poverty schemes conducted by IIE, and other agencies have indicated that the poorest of the poor have not received the intended benefits while they must be given priority in all the government concessions and other privileges in order to mitigate the distress, implementing Agencies indicate that the poorest of the poor could not avail credit and other concessions and prefer wage employment. Therefore, identification of beneficiaries for wage employment and self employment must be made in a more scientific manner, taking into account the available skills and preferences of the beneficiaries and the resource endowments of the districts. As APSCCFC has proposed a sample survey in select districts to assess the impact of various development schemes on the economic status and income levels of SC persons in rural and urban areas, Indian Institute Economics felt that it should seek the views of persons, with operational, field experience, those who have experience of analysis and evaluation of implementation of programmes and those who have studied the problem from an academic angle.


Agreeing that, the identification of BPL beneficiaries posed complex issues, Sri. T.Gopal Rao, Advisor, National Dalit Forum, felt that bonded labour can be identified as the poorest of the poor and others beneficiaries can be categorized into three classes. First, the landless poor are the most deserving group in the identification process, secondly the small and marginal farmers in the same group and thirdly other vulnerable occupational groups. He observed that under Indiramma village concept, villages are not being selected in a scientific manner. While once a village is selected, the entire village will be covered under Housing and pension’s scheme for all the eligible beneficiaries. 50 Percent allocations meant for SCs in Rural Development Schemes will not apply in such cases. The problem in the villages not covered in a group identified for the particular year, will not be eligible for Bank finance, and economic support programmes suffer.

Sri. Ajoyendra Pyal, Principal Secretary, Government of A.P, explained that under Indiramma programme, first phase covers 8026 Gram Panchayats, second phase covers 7000 Gram Panchayats and the rest later.  Schemes under 7 or 9 sectors have been chosen, specifying that SC coverage different for each 40% for house sites 50% for housing and so on.  Indiramma scheme has not touched upon economic support programmes for SCs. Hence, it needs to be revamped and appropriate strategies need to be adopted.

Observing that SHG or Clusters approach has been evolved for administrative convenience. Sri.V.K.Srinivasan suggested that issues of relative efficiency and effectiveness between the group approaches vs. individual approach in different programmes have to be settled.

Intervening K. Madhava Rao, former Chief Secretary, Government of A.P, stated that there was no clarity about the objective of the proposed study, whether it was to assess the status of the poor and flow of benefits to SCs from the various schemes (implemented so far) or to evolve better methods identify the poorest of the poor, if so the most appropriate methodology. The agenda note speaks of both the Survey of Status of Poverty levels among various SCs Occupational Groups and of BPL Census; Sri.V.K.Srinivasan clarified that while the focus of the study would be the SCs and methods to increase of flow of benefits to SCs, it should be remembered that bulk of funds come from the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India and the prescribed methodology for identification of beneficiaries will therefore be relevant, as the RD Schemes carry specific earmarked percentage of SC beneficiaries to be covered.    

Sri. A.K.Goel, Government Chief Secretary, Planning, Government of A.P, expressed the view that “Indiramma” has not taken away anything from development of SCs and has only added support by enlarging and strengthening the existing programmes by adopting a cluster approach. He felt that the ‘Indiramma’ is mainly focusing on twin aspects viz.., housing and old-age pension schemes and has not included many other important activities that have a direct bearing on poverty reduction among various occupational groups including SCs.

Sri.V.S. Sampath, Director General, NIRD mentioned that there is a mismatch between global and local level estimates of poor and the results of field census.  When there are complex issues in identification of beneficiaries, scheme implementation should go as per local needs. 10 percent allowance was given for variations between Planning Commission estimates and BPL census. Bulk of the funding towards poverty alleviation programmes is coming from the Rural Development Ministry; if the guidelines issued are not followed there would be a risk of not getting the allocations. He referred to the individual Household Model of Gujarat, which has used more variables than Government of India prescription of 13 score-based socio-economic parameters for assessing the poverty level of each household and has grouped beneficiaries into poor and very poor and prioritized the poverty alleviation programmes by putting the poorest at the top.  He observed that the strategic reason behind adopting Group approach is to mobilize more resources from Banks, since Government resources are not adequate. Even though Group approach is adopted for administrative convenience, larger benefits would come ultimately. There are already special programmes under SGSY and NREGP with earmarked allocation for SCs and STs. By adopting a convergent approach with good and worthwhile economic support programmes, better results can be achieved, contributing to development of SCs.

Prof. S.Subrahmanyam, Centre for Economic and Social Studies, observed that despite having a rich data and valuable information on the levels of development of SCs published by the NSSO and other related agencies, the experts are not able to come up with a unique and comprehensive methodology to address the problem of proper identification of beneficiaries.  There is need to distinguish the results of sample surveys from those of Census.  One should work very keenly at the micro level i.e., at the mandal level to evaluate and critically analyze the effectiveness of specific scheme and to identify the schemes that are most effective in helping the SC community. At another level, there should also be planning for the development of these SCs, focusing attention on Education, Health, Employment Schemes.


Sri. M.C. Swaminathan former Director, Planning, Government of A.P, stated that there is no dearth of data on the socio-economic indicators on SC community. Citing the National Health, Family Survey data which provides most valuable information on SCs, he suggested that one should not hang on to the traditional indicators, that hardly have relevance in the present changing economic scenario. Indicators from Millennium Development Goals would definitely help us in addressing the issue of Human Development with proper understanding. For instance, data on Child education levels or incidents of disaster in SC families affecting income earning capacity or indebtedness could be taken into account as they have relevance in the reduction of poverty.


Dr. T. Koteswararao, Retd Director Planning, observed that the existing data of NSSO provide adequate information at State level but we do not have Mandal and District level particulars. Apart from analyzing the available data, on the status of poverty, unemployment, and benefits of Government programmes, data on indebtedness could be further gathered and examined and appropriate plan of action could be worked out for XI Five Year Plan.


Sri. K.Madhavarao, reiterated the need for clarity on objective of the proposed survey and  suggested that the word poverty can be removed from the title of  the socio-economic survey of SCs, as whole gamut of issues viz, poverty, employment, health, rural indebtedness all have direct bearing on the level development of the community. He also suggested that the expert group assembled should avoid confusion whether the study should be focused on the identification of the individual beneficiaries or on evaluation of the impact of various developmental programmes.  According to Sri.Madhava Rao the focus should be on evaluation of the schemes and flow of benefits to SCs. He opined that since 60 percent of BPL population among Scheduled Castes wanted schemes under wage employment and self-employment, the priorities appear to be clear. We have been implementing the schemes for SCs for several decades, and it should be analysed whether these schemes have really helped the poor Scheduled Castes. The impact of such scheme as land purchase and housing schemes on SC beneficiaries should be assessed. He suggested that Government could take half a dozen schemes or even more to evaluate, whether they really benefited the SCs over a period of time and decide whether these schemes should be continued or discontinued. He suggested that another round of discussions along with Velugu officials could be held to firm up the schemes for XI Five Year Plan. 

Prof. B. Satyanarayan, Chairman, State Finance Commission, felt that there is a need to evaluate the long standing programmes and identify those programmes that have led to improvement in the standard of living of SCs and to decide if there was any scope for expansion of the programmes that have yielded positive results.

Suggesting reorientation of schemes for the benefits of SCs, Sri A.K.Goel observed that one could select some families in the gram panchayats/wards and study how these families are engaged economically and assess their annual income. Secondly, study should cover income and education/skill status of these families so that one could get a comprehensive picture on the potential for development of the SC community. Emphasizing the need for a sector specific approach, he drew attention to the fact that the present economic growth rate of above 8 percent, has a large component of services sector and the future growth impinges on service sector. Since the agriculture economy is in distress, it is pertinent to raise the question whether SC Development Schemes should continue to focus on land and agriculture and whether SC development schemes should turn to sectors and sub-sectors that offer good income opportunities to these vulnerable groups and attempt to build relevant technical skills.

Sri. Ajoyendra Pyal suggested that time has come for streamlining Rural Development schemes and for devising a fresh and new methodology altogether to open new vistas of thought. It should also be decided whether scheme formulation should rely on collection of primary level data or whether utilization of available secondary data can help speedup rationalization of schemes in Rural Development and Welfare sectors.


Sri. M. Lakshmaiah, Centre for Dalit Studies, has stated that we have all the data and facts available and what is required to be done should be clearly specified. He felt that SC family should be considered as a unit and village level micro-planning shall be taken up by implementing agencies. Evaluation study should assess the available skills and the required resources shall be mobilized to implement a pilot project, which can be replicated later in other districts. He observed that there are several programmes implemented for SCs in a sectoral way and there is a need for convergence with an integrated approach.

Sri. S.R.Sankaran, Chairman, observed that while schemes implemented so far have benefited SCs, there is a vast area and large section of SC population still to be covered. It should be seen that the broader objectives of the welfare and development programmes are not defeated by the grass root level functionaries lacking commitment and honesty. When we walk into any village, it is apparent that Dalitwada with Scheduled Castes has the poorest among the villagers. Focus on proper implementation of Rural Development targeted at these schemes, with adequate funding will be of greater significance to SCs. We have decades of experience and the areas requiring systematic improvement are also clear.  Approaches to wage employment, self-employment and infrastructure development have to be different and attempts must be made to avail RLEGP and other central schemes.  While APSCCFC has built strength in some areas, there is scope for improvement and a vital need to evolve a more cohesive and integrated approach to implementation of SC welfare and Rural Development Schemes.  Sri. S.R.Sankaran suggested that a further discussion with Rural Development Department Officials and Velugu Supervisors could be held to, finalize and sharpen the scope of the proposed study.

Dr. U. Subrahmanyam of the Indian Institute of Economics, proposed vote of thanks at the end.




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